“the courage to… / துணிவுடன்…” is a short meditative film taking audiences on a journey of creative courage.
The piece came about as a result of mutual sharing about our process training in Kalaripayattu, an ancient form of martial arts from Kerala, India. We came to recognize the courage, discipline and resilience it has taken for us to receive the practice of Kalaripayattu and evolve it through our bodies. This led us to explore and unravel what it means to have courage, and the various forms it takes, acknowledging how we endure life’s battles and the beauty of the human spirit to be alive and push through testing times.
In this piece, we have re-interpreted the visual styles of Theyyam and Pulikkali, two folk art forms from Kerala, as contemporary tools for storytelling.
Theyyam, a vibrant ancient ritual form of dance worship, tells stories of local heroes as deities, bringing to life historical documentation of society. This form subverts the caste hierarchy, even as it exists within the limitations of the caste system. Members of the higher castes bow down to the lower castes, while the latter perform the role of the deities.
Pulikkali, the tiger dance festival, is a recreational folk art form celebrating bravery and the fighting spirit in us, where performers paint their bodies like tigers, in bright hues of orange, red and yellow. This riot of colours inter-played with the tenuous relationship between hunter and tiger is traditionally performed by men during Onam celebrations.
Drawing inspiration from these forms, whilst engaging with the fact that they are practiced with such strong social structures of caste and gender, “the courage to… / துணிவுடன்…” is a depiction of visions and perceptions, irrespective of geography, constantly evolving from one generation after another.
This film was created as a distance project and is a collaboration between a dynamic team of 9 South Asian artists from Canada and India. Moving forward – as performing artists, we wish to use this piece as a tool to support us in developing a live performance. We dedicate this piece to all nurturers, for holding space in spite of challenges, for a hopeful future.
– Ankita Alemona and Subhashree Parthasarathy
concept, direction, choreography & performance by:
ankita alemona & subhashree parthasarathy
team of creative collaborators:
director of photography: ash tailor-jones
gaffer: bob gundu
visual design and body art by: hemangi shroff
film editors: ash tailor-jones & ankita alemona
colourist: ash tailor-jones
space provided by: mudra school of dance
director of photography: naveed mulki
visual design and body art by: harshvardhan kadam
music by: vedanth bharadwaj, subhashree parthasarathy and live recording from tantrosav 2021
yogeeshananda peetham; percussions lead by kalamandalam rajeev, prakash sathiya, kalanilayam unnikrishnan
space provided by: kalarigram
title animation: madrasmoney
tamil translation: deepika arun
nautanki creations & subhashree parthasarathy
commissioned by: toronto dance theatre – td bridgemakers project
artistic director: andrew tay
digital dramaturge & mentor: francesca chudnoff
managing director: jessica whitford
communications manager: emma joy
made possible with support from:
canada arts council
td canada trust
special thank-you to:
hindustan kalari sangam family
rishav raj mahajan
baby kiaan mahajan
and our families